How To Become An Electrician In Ohio: A Step-by-Step Guide
Contractor Tips , Posted by Nicole Zemaitis on
Are you based in the state of Ohio and thinking of getting your license to become an electrician? There’s never been a better time to get that ball rolling. But there are a few things you need to know first.
Electrical work is a highly skilled craft that carries high risks—and the compensation is commensurate. Job security, competitive pay, and the freedom to fashion your schedule all await the pupil's commitment to the process.
Development is on the way up in many mid-size Ohio cities, from Dayton to Toledo, so licensed individuals will be in demand for a long time. Follow this step-by-step guide from deciding whether electrical work is right for you, through coursework and apprenticing, into getting licensed and securing your first few jobs.
Step 1. Decide If Electrical Work is Right For You
A “trade” profession is a line of work that requires on-the-job experience, specialized training, and vocational education, but not a Bachelor’s Degree. That means you can avoid the four-year University system (and the serious debt that can come along with it) and still secure a high-paying career with benefits.
Examples of trade professions are mechanics, plumbers, welders, ironworkers, carpenters, and electricians. As people will always need free-flowing water, cars, houses, and electricity, these jobs are evergreen. Every industry goes through lean and fat periods, but job security in trade professions is solid, and you can do them anywhere.
Out of all the options, why choose electrical work? Electrical work is generally among the “cleanest” of all the trades—no motor oil or raw sewage will be washing up on you while you’re crossing wires. The trade-off here is that the electrical trade ranks among the most dangerous due to electrocution and electrical fire risk.
But the price tag of an annual salary for a licensed electrician reflects that risk and the training and education required to reach the highest earning potential. According to recent numbers, salaries in Ohio’s residential areas range between $40,000 and 60,000. In OH’s major cities, that range jumps to between $60,000 and $83,000.
If that isn’t attractive enough, the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services counts electricians in the Top 30 Industries with the Fastest Job Growth. A sudden yet sustained increase in construction kicked off in 2015 in Ohio, leading to a sharp rise in demand for electrical contractors. Rural Northeastern Ohio recorded the 3rd highest uptick in electrician jobs in any rural area in the United States.
Step 2. Education and Apprenticeship Training
If you want to do electrical work in the state of Ohio, you don’t have to take the exam to obtain an electrician license. But, suppose you want to become an electrical contractor, employ junior electricians and electrician apprentices, run your own electrician business, or do electrical work in Hamilton or Middletown. In that case, you will need to take the exam and obtain an electrician license.
While many roads lead to being gainfully employed as an electrical contractor, if you want to live off your work, most of those roads are going to cross through licensing eventually. That means meeting the time, money, and education requirements set forth by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board.
Whether pursuing a license or becoming a successful journeyman (without a license), there are three primary paths: training and educating yourself through sheer hard work, enrolling in a technical college, or finding and being accepted into an electrician program.
Often these three paths intersect. One may begin independently teaching themselves the trade of electrical craftsmanship and find they need the support a technical school can provide. One may enroll in a joint apprenticeship and training program and be connected with great paying jobs before they’ve even taken the license exam. There is no bad entry point, but it’s helpful to know what each path entails.
Going Your Own Way
Unlike many other states in the union, Ohio does not require any licensing or educational requirements for electricians. However, the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board requires education, on-the-job or apprenticeship training, an exam, and more for commercial electricians who want to incorporate a business or hire junior electricians. There can also be requirements written into homeowners’ liability insurance policies in the state that stipulate only licensed electricians may perform work.
Consider that while you begin seeking out the books, videos, and plethora of free courses out there to familiarize yourself with the trade. Many licensed electrical contractors in Ohio will admit junior tradespeople who don’t have any formal educational or previous job site training into shadowing programs.
Training yourself is a lot harder than enrolling in a technical college and surrounding yourself with a community of professional electrical contractors who’ve years of experience to their names, connections all over the place, and have successfully passed through the electrical contractor exam process. With that in mind, let’s consider the technical college option.
Technical colleges provide specially designed courses on practical subjects, from information technology to plumbing and general electrical work, to agricultural and clerical vocations. Most technical colleges fast-track the job search by providing career-oriented license and certification programs.
There are many great national, state, and local technical school programs for electricians. Most journeyman and electrical contractor license programs require a classroom-based technical training component, and a two-year degree in applied electrical technology would almost surely satisfy that.
Schools can also connect you with professional networks of journeyman and licensed contractors, many of whom are in constant need of informal trainees and formal apprentices. Looking for these opportunities on your own can be daunting, and without the name of a well-recognized Technical College behind you, it can be hard to get through to busy working professionals.
The administration and faculty at Technical Colleges are often very well-connected within local and larger state electricians' networks. They can help you market your coursework as preparation for apprenticing. Once you’re successfully enrolled and working away in an apprenticeship, they can help you find a job to complete your last years of on-the-job training.
These programs are immersive 3-5 year programs that combine experiential (and paid) job site education, electrical theory courses, and license prep—the vast majority of working electricians in Ohio advance from a technical college into an apprenticeship. After passing the electrical contractor exam and securing their contractor license, they can find jobs.
That eventual job hunt is what makes apprenticeships a most attractive prospect. Technical colleges are filled with faculty who are well-connected in Ohio electrical circles. But being admitted into an apprenticeship will surround you with actual working and electricians that are licensed. There’s no better way to find jobs than to seek them through organic connections, and apprenticing programs are designed to foster just that.
The easiest way to seek out an apprenticeship in the state is to visit the Apprentice Ohio website and apply under “I’m Interested in Becoming an Apprentice.” The Apprenticeship Statewide Partnership Panel (ASPP) is a body that governs and funds apprenticeship programs in Ohio, and through partnerships with the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee of Ohio, and more, facilitates hundreds of apprenticeships per year.
All it requires is a simple application.
Step 3. Get Your Electrician’s License
Getting your Ohio electrician license benefits you in numerous ways. It makes you safer on the job, opens you up to higher-paying jobs, and allows you to build a durable independent electrician business.
To obtain an electrician license from the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board, you will need to carry a liability insurance policy, pass a general electrician exam, a business/law exam, and these other requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a legal citizen or resident of the United States.
- Do not bear conviction of any disqualifying offense or crime (what crimes count varies widely, as you can see in this article)
- Have five years of experience (appeals for a lower experience threshold can be made to the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board).
- Pass the electrical contractor exam.
- Pass a business and law exam.
- Carry at least $500,000 in general liability insurance.
This looks like a lot! But don’t panic. If you passed through the technical college/apprenticeship program route, you’ve likely already accrued a sufficient amount of experience. With some brush-up studying, you will fly through the license and business/law exam. Getting liability insurance just takes a phone call with a licensed insurance agent.
The Bottom Line
What sets trade vocation career paths apart from many other career paths is that the road to the job is paid the whole way. The vast majority of students enrolled in technical schools are simultaneously enrolled in apprentice programs, which aren’t at all like your typical unpaid office internships. If you're working, you're getting paid.
Contractor Training Center’s exam prep classes and resources for those looking to become licensed contractors can help you every step of the way toward becoming a working electrician in Ohio.